Can Cleaning a Toilet Help With the Grieving Process?

–If you’re like me, an emphatic “yes”

First, I must thank my readers for sticking with me as I’ve been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Flailing through a pea-souper of a fog, with very little energy to write as much as I normally do.


Dooley’s Journey

Recently, I wrote that our fifteen-year-old cat, Dooley is near the end of his long and much-loved life. As of this date, thankfully, he is still with us.

My husband and I have faced the reality that Dooley will not get better, will not rally, from what our vet believes is cancer. He went downhill very quickly, as cats always seem to do, in our experience, anyway. But, given his age, we have been so fortunate as his health, previous to this, was always excellent.

Dooley was a champion eater, gobbling up every food served up to him. We used to refer to him as the Head of the Clean Plate Club.

As I said, seemingly overnight, he stopped showing any interest in food. Even the boiled chicken I made for all three of our cats. Not one touched it.

Dooley has been on a steroid called prednisolone, similar to prednisone, but more potent, from what I understand. It helps with pain and inflammation.

Since we last visited our vet — the very day he suggested euthanasia — we have been watching Dooley like hawks, for any sign that he is ready to go.

Every day is a roller coaster ride. For example, for days, he barely ate a bite of food. Yesterday, he was ravenous and “asked” for food at varying times throughout the day. Sometimes, he’ll eat some kibble and others, a couple of spoonfuls of baby food. In fact, he almost seemed like his old self. The Dooley who we nicknamed “Swingin’ Dick” for his propensity to try and mix things up with our boy, Conor. Just to show who’s boss, mind you.

Then, this morning, I found him asleep on our loveseat in the family room, where he spends most of his days now, and when he slowly got up to change position, he seemed so very weak.

When he finally jumped off the loveseat to go to the water bowl, his back legs were bent at what appeared to be a painful angle, but, as I think on it, his being so thin has undoubtedly affected his stature and gait.

My husband and I sat and watched him for a while and just as I was about to make “The Call,” Dooley came up to me and, in his way, “asked” for a bite to eat.

He followed me down to the laundry room and ate some kibble. What I believe is going on, is that the steroid is helping with any pain he’s experiencing and is also boosting his appetite. This has been the pattern. In the morning, Dooley is fairly out of it, and after getting his prednisolone, he perks up.

As I said, a roller coaster ride. At this point, we’re going out of our minds trying to figure out if what we’re doing is the right thing. Are we being selfish by prolonging the inevitable? Or, is the fact that Dooley will eat, even a small amount of food, a sign that we should wait?

So, what did I do to help my thought process? I cleaned one of our bathrooms, like the maniac I can be. And, it helped calm me down. Helped tamper the grief. Because, even though Dooley is still with us, we are grieving because we know that, at any moment this will change and we’ll be on our way to ushering him to whatever awaits on the other side. I can only hope that he’ll be greeted by our six cats who went before.

I can only hope. What else is there, as naive as that sounds?

There’s always a chance that our boy will go peacefully in his sleep. I don’t think it will happen, but again, one can only hope.

As I write this, I realize how blessed we are to have this time with Dooley, as difficult as it is to look ahead to next week, or next month, or even, tomorrow.

So, rather than do that, I’ll get busy. We have two other bathrooms that need cleaning. And, I’m just the person to do it.


Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinn
Sherry McGuinn is a long-time, Chicago area, advertising/marketing writer, blogger and, for the last fifteen years, screenwriter. A big-time dreamer and proud of it, Sherry has had two short films produced, one in L.A., the other in New York. Both won several awards and screened at festivals but she is still "fighting the good fight," in order to become a full-time, working screenwriter. A passionate straight-shooter who never rests on her laurels, Sherry writes about damn near everything because how do you encapsulate…life? Unflinching in her determination to “just tell the truth,” Sherry strives to educate, engage and inspire others to follow their dreams. A lifelong animal lover and advocate, Sherry resides in a Chicago suburb with her husband and their three fabulous felines.

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